The National Parks Association of NSW Inc (NPA) is renewing calls for the government to create new protected areas for koalas, including the Great Koala National Park, following the release of a critique of the NSW government’s Koala Strategy it co-authored with WWF and NEFA.
NPA says the critique ‘demonstrates that the Koala Strategy is expensive, ineffective and entirely inadequate to prevent the extinction of koalas. It simply cannot work.’
Key findings were:
- It is not a whole-of-government koala strategy as recommended by the NSW Chief Scientist because it ignores logging, land clearing and urban development—the driv-ers of habitat loss;
- The new reserves that accompanied the Strategy were almost all already protected and contain few or no koala records, while one genuinely new reserve (Mount Lind-say) is heavily degraded by forest dieback;
- The government failed to protect koala populations that the Environment Depart-ment identified;
- The promised $20m investment to buy koala habitat will buy just 2,500 hectares based on recent rural land valuations and;
- Changes to logging and land clearing laws will severely impact koala habitat and en-tirely swamp the $20 million, rendering it a waste of taxpayer money.
NPA CEO Alix Goodwin described the policy as ‘yet more evidence that the government is just not taking the plight of koalas seriously’.
‘It’s tinkering round the edges and throwing money around to be seen to be doing some-thing, rather than taking real action’, she said.
‘If you want to understand just how misguided the government’s approach is, look no fur-ther than the recent changes to logging laws that have implemented an intensive harvest-ing zone across 140,000 hectares of native forests—including many proposed for the Great Koala National Park.
‘That is despite repeated lines of evidence from the environment and primary industries departments as to the huge importance of the area for koalas.
‘The government is making a conscious choice to destroy koala habitat instead of protecting it, just to obtain timber. Worse, these forests are public land and citizens might reasonably expect them to be managed for the public interest.
‘Does the government really believe that wood from native forests is more important to the public interest of Australians than saving koalas? If so, it’s hugely out of step with public opinion that opposes logging.
‘We’re at crisis point for koalas. We need big, bold steps like the Great Koala National Park, and we need them now,’ Ms Goodwin said.